Monday, April 26, 2010

Too Much Fun!

The Town Crier and His Wench
April 24, 2010

Photo by Carol Maynard Ruddick

We are usually perched on someone's retaining wall on Main Street to watch the Sebastopol Apple Blossom Parade. This year we got to participate in full costume to support the upcoming "Much Ado About Sebastopol" Renaissance Faire planned for September 18th, 2010. Our contingent included the Queen and her court, children and adults in period wear and even a knight on horseback.

My friend and neighbor, Andrea Hagan Schmitz, started doing Renaissance Faires for her classes at Brook Haven Middle School a number of years ago and the event grew to include other local schools. The students got an opportunity to step back in time and experience the Renaissance. They dressed in period costumes, joined a guild and got to participate in workshops like: piracy, sword play, chain mail and candle making.

This year Andrea has joined forces with the Sebastopol Educational Foundation to turn the Renaissance Faire into a great family oriented event and fundraiser to benefit local schools.  So put September 18, 2010 on your calendar and start thinking about your costumes. 

For more information go to Huzzah!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 18, 1906 - The Great San Francisco Earthquake

April 18th is the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.  While working on my family genealogy I discovered some interesting connections to that day.

My maternal grandmother Hazel Hobson was senior at UC Berkeley in Spring 1906. The earthquake happened just weeks before graduation. Classes and finals were canceled, and it was decided that the publication of the Senior Record would be put off until their 1st reunion. Though the leather cover has started to succumb to time I have her copy.

From the Forward "It is the record of the earthquake class, a class that was shaken away from contact with books and papers and hurled unawares into the turmoil of life, and there assigned to active service. Our men and women were sent forth into the land in the hour of her sorest need. We graduated alike without final examinations and without the customary celebrations of Senior Week....As our class stands unique among the classes, so must it's Senior Book have no counterpart among college publications. It is designed to have no place in and form no part of any series: it bears no title, no volume number to link it to commonplace records. We desire it to be a unique record of a unique senior year. It's preparation has been a labor of love".

My paternal grandmother, Olive Waters, grew up in San Francisco. She and her father were in Europe when the quake hit, but the family home at 1976 California Street survived unscathed. In 2007 I sent a letter to the "current owner" at that address. He contacted me and I was delighted to find out he's a history buff. He provided me with more pieces of the puzzle about the house. He also discovered there was a photographer's studio under the name of RJ Waters listed at the address. I knew that my great grand uncle had been a photographer, but little else, so at his suggestion I did some research on the web.

RJ Waters was born in Virginia City, NV and worked out of Gold Hill, NV until his move to San Francisco. His outdoor views of Tahoe, Gold Hill, Virginia City and the Sierras ranked him among the best photographers of his time. He became well known for his photos of the SF quake and did some innovative work for the Pan Pacific Exposition in 1915 by launching a camera in a balloon contraption to get the first "aerial photos" of the exposition. 

I also found reference to a book entitled "1906 The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire" by Darrell Heppner. I contacted Mr. Heppner and he told me the story of how he came into possession of some of RJ Waters' photo negatives. In May 2000 he and his wife were at the Alameda flea market and discovered a vendor with black boxes containing 4"x5" glass negatives of the 1906 quake along with an old typed list of information about each negative. They purchased the lot and it became their passion to publish a book about the quake, its aftermath and the rebuilding of San Francisco. I have a signed copy of the book and Mr. Heppner gave me permission to use some of my grand uncle's photos. 

Our lives are tapestries, threads woven from generation to generation. I had no idea my grand uncle had lived and worked in Gold Hill, NV until this week. The connection? I had always wanted to be married in Nevada and a high school friend living in Reno suggested a couple of places for us to check out. With he and his wife, and two friends from home as witnesses we were married by the Justice of the Peace at the Gold Hill Hotel in 1986. Make the time to talk to your elders, ask them about old pictures, ask them about the times they lived in, record it or write it down and begin a dialog for generations. It can be a fascinating adventure.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Must Have Monday - Customer Thank You Notes

From my neighbor's garden

I read a lot of forums, features and blogs to expand my knowledge of marketing and promotion for my online shops. What I love about the artistic communities is that all are willing to share what they have learned.

A majority of these conversations support the idea of adding a thank you note to a customer's package. Some buyers appreciate the effort and some may not notice, but to me it adds a personal touch. If you have the time and talent to make your own tags or cards it's definitely worth thinking about. If you don't have that spare time (and most of us don't) consider supporting a fellow artisan.

The creations in the accompanying spotlight from showcase a variety of mini gift cards and tags from Etsy artisans. They range from fine art to whimsy, from simple to sublime. Click on the thumbnail photo in the spotlight and the link will take you to the artisan's shop.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Apple Blossom Time

Sebastopol is the home of the Gravenstein apple and the 64th Apple Blossom Parade and Fair is on April 24th. This is the ultimate small town parade: including our Veteran's group, local dancers and musicians, horses and llamas, school bands, marching dog brigades, wacky floats and general silliness, antique tractors, vintage cars, fire engines, and anything that can be motorized by a Zap electric engine; from a wheelbarrow to a skateboard. What more could you ask for on a sunny Saturday morning?  

Apple Blossom on our oldest Gravenstein tree

A little background on the Gravenstein apple from

The heirloom Gravenstein is widely regarded as one of the best eating and baking apples. A fine balance of sweet and tart, its flavor intensifies when made into sauce, juice, cider or vinegar and it holds its shape beautifully in pies and tarts. Aficionados flock to Sebastopol during the Spring Festival and again at the Gravenstein Harvest Festival in August.

German migrants brought the apple to North America in 1790 and Russian fur traders planted the first West Coast Gravenstein orchards at their outpost in Fort Ross in 1820. It is likely that cuttings from these trees were used to start the orchards in Sebastopol. By the early 1900s thousands of Gravenstein orchards were established and the apple had become the heart of a major industry in Sonoma County. During World War II American troops were provided with applesauce and dried apples from Sebastopol Gravensteins, and this made the apple into an icon for the town.

Unfortunately suburban development and the popularity of wine production have reduced the number of apple orchards. During the past six decades, Sonoma County’s Gravenstein orchards have declined by almost 7,000 acres to about 900 acres. Most of the Sebastopol growers farm land has been in apple production for over a century.

The International Slow Food organization based in Italy designated the Gravenstein apple as one of a handful of heritage foods to be preserved in the United States and the only one in California. The Presidia program, created by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, organizes and funds projects to protect our heritage of agricultural biodiversity and assist groups of artisan producers, to promote and protect farmers who nurture their apples from tree to table.  

No matter where you live, support your health and local farmers by shopping locally and visit the farmers' markets.